The Surrey hills are alive to the sound of a Ferrari V12 once more!
Spring finally sprung in the south east of England last weekend. For most this is the sound of birds singing and daffodils coming into bloom. For me, however, it was an overdue chance to fire up the four cam V12 of the Daytona and take it for a drive.
In truth, this was not actually the first time the car has been driven this year. My mechanic Vince took the car for its annual MOT test a couple of weeks beforehand, and I'm pleased to say it sailed through. In my last update I referred to the possibility of the engine coming out for a refresh over the winter. In the end this didn't happen; the Iso Grifo rebuild and the gearbox upgrade on the red 365GTC/4 meant there just wasn't time to get the car up onto the lift. The oil leak is only small (more of a weep, really) and assuming it doesn't get any worse should mean the car is perfectly usable for another season.
The ambient temperature was still quite cool when I got into the car but thanks to some garage heaters keeping the oil warm, the car was ready to go. For once, the car fired up first time and after a few minutes holding the engine at a steady 1500rpm to warm everything through, it was time to head off - but where to go? Normally the opening of the Daytona driving season is a run down to Goodwood for the first of their Sunday Breakfast Clubs, but the weather was so awful for that event (held the weekend before) I wisely kept the Daytona tucked away. Instead I made good on the intent in my last Daytona update and took the car out just for the hell of it.
With no particular direction in mind, I ended up heading for the Surrey Hills along the A25 towards the picturesque town of Shere (apparently a popular location for shooting England-based romantic comedies). It is a beautiful part of the world and for ramblers and mountain bikers probably worth a visit, especially for some of the good country pubs in the area. However, the same cannot be said for the drivers. There is nothing wrong with the A25 as a drivers road per se - it has some interesting corners and a reasonable amount of elevation change, but on a sunny Sunday the road has a lot of traffic and the speed limit on most of it has been reduced to 40mph, making it pointless to use the Daytona's effortless overtaking ability.
Fortunately the A25 takes you into the town of Dorking (no sniggering from our American readers) and from there I took the A24 towards Leatherhead. This is a much faster dual carriageway with the national speed limit in place and suits the Daytona rather better. The road takes you past Denbies, England's largest vineyard, and also Box Hill where the cycle road racing for the London Olympics will take place. A little further on is a section of the road known locally as the Mickleham Bends. It's a popular piece of road with the motorbike community and is also something of an accident black spot. As a result the speed through this section has been reduced and there are a lot of speed cameras.
From Leatherhead I cut across through Oxshott to the A3 and headed down this defacto motorway to the Daytona's lair. All in all the journey was just under forty miles and took a little over an hour. That was more than enough to reacquaint me with the car, which I've not driven for some five months. The brake pedal seemed to feel a little mushier than I remember, but that might just be my memory playing tricks on me.
In other news, the recently announced Windsor Tour, accompanying the Windsor Concours d'elegance in September, includes the Daytona on its list of eligible cars. All the cars eligible represent one of the sixty years that the Queen has been on the throne and the Daytona will represent 1968, the year of its launch. I have contacted the organisers to register my interest in having my Daytona as part of the tour and as I write I'm waiting to hear if the car has been accepted.
If successful, I have a dilemma; entrants are requested to wear clothing appropriate to the year of the launch. While I'm something of a label whore, as my wife teasingly calls me, I'm not really sure what would be appropriate clothing for a Daytona driver in 1968. Any sartorial ideas gratefully received!
Potential fashion issues aside, I'm very glad that the Daytona driving season is well and truly open.